DPZ's approach to walkable, mixed-use urbanism is particularly relevant for people who do not drive: the very young and the elderly. Working with such groups as AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the US Environmental Protection Agency and metropolitan planning organizations, DPZ's Lifelong Neighborhoods initiative recognizes that economic vitality, stability, and health cannot be maintained over an individual’s lifespan without a coherent and supportive physical neighborhood framework. The initiative approaches the reform of sprawling development patterns and older adult support systems as one interrelated community building challenge.
The inititiave seeks out strategic interventions that raise the quality of life for residents of all ages while addressing specific and critical needs of those aging in place. DPZ's socially vibrant, pedestrian-oriented environments are brought to a greater level of lifelong viability through creative housing and transportation solutions as well as partnerships with healthcare providers. To further these goals, DPZ has also crafted concise and practical guidelines to help local officials evaluate the lifelong qualities of development proposals that come up for review.
Aging in Place
Metropolitan Planning Organizations are increasingly challenged by the live, work, transport and healthcare challenges of their aging populations. The negative impacts of sprawling development patterns fall disproportionately hard on seniors who wish to remain in their homes as they age. Consider Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Millennials (born 1977-1996) comprise the two largest global generations. Both generations are entering life stages where urban living within pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, sustainable, light imprint environments, from village center to a reviving downtown core, is increasingly attractive. From a public sector perspective, both age groups can be much more effectively supported when they reside in the healthy and socially supportive context of a vibrant pedestrian oriented neighborhood.
This type of convergence of intergenerational need and opportunity is unprecedented. Within this framework, DPZ has created age inclusive community models to integrate the age-related concerns of health service delivery, transportation, workforce development and land use planning. Lifelong Neighborhoods proactively steers outward sprawl inward towards existing urban and suburban locations adjacent to urban centers, producing healthy and socially engaging communities for people of all ages and abilities.